December 8, 2011

MADISON - The Public Service Commission today approved new electric and natural gas rates for Xcel Energy, which will take effect on January 1, 2012.  The Citizens Utility Board participated in the case, and made suggestions that reduced the rate increases by more than $3.5 million.

Xcel had sought an increase in electric rates for 2012 of $29.2 million, or 5.1 percent; and an increase in the rates for the delivery of natural gas of $8.0 million, or 6.6 percent (the natural gas itself is purchased by the utility in open markets and the cost is passed onto customers). The PSC today approved an increase in electric rates of about $12 million, or about 2 percent, and in the delivery costs of natural gas by about $7.7 million, or about 6 percent.

As part of its request to increase electric rates, Xcel sought a return on equity, or profit, of 10.75 percent.  CUB and others suggested a much lower level of profit.  The PSC agreed to keep Xcel’s return on equity at the current level of 10.4 percent, resulting in a savings to ratepayers of $2.6 million from what Xcel requested.

The PSC also agreed with CUB regarding the appropriate way to forecast wholesale market prices for electricity, resulting in a savings to ratepayers of nearly $1 million.

Recently, Xcel reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Energy regarding the federal government’s failure to take responsibility for nuclear waste at Xcel’s nuclear plants.  The PSC agreed with Xcel and CUB to give Wisconsin ratepayers $13 million of the settlement, which will appear on upcoming bills as a one-time credit.

“The PSC made good decisions today that will result in a smaller increase in electric rates than what Xcel had been seeking,” said Charlie Higley, CUB executive director.  “CUB and others argued for ways to lower the size of the rate increase, and the PSC thankfully followed the advice."

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The Citizens Utility Board of Wisconsin is a member-supported, nonprofit organization that advocates for reliable and affordable utility service. CUB represents the interests of residential, farm, and small business customers of electric, natural gas, and telecommunication utilities before the Legislature, regulatory agencies, and the courts.